Saturday, 14 June 2008
As we gear up for November there is going to be a lot of talk about swing states and get out the vote operations around the country. But there is one group of critical voters who are (literally) not in range of the US media coverage - or polling.
Americans living abroad are keeenly sensitive to America's loss of international reuptation. They get media coverage that has been more consistenty critical of the Bush administration for longer than voters back home. And in the 2006 election there were more absentee ballots from overseas in the Virginia and Montana Senate races than made up the margin of victory in those races. So yes, these voters do make a difference.
But finding overseas voters, informing them of their voting rights, getting them registered and ensuring they do actually vote can be exponentially harder than GOTV operations in the States - plus we are often subject to more restrictive laws. For instance, here in Europe there are stricter rules about data protection, making it more difficult for us to access personal information through third parties. In some countries, such as China, there are actually laws preventing a foreign political party from organising.
Below is a short guide to the overseas vote this year - how to do it and why it matters. I'd appreciate it if you could help us get the word out about these important voting tools, and if you could forward this information along to anyone you know who lives overseas.
Can Americans Abroad Vote?
Yes they can! For the past 40 years, expats have been eligible to vote in US federal elections (presidential and congressional). Some states also allow us to vote in local elections as well, but rules on this vary. How Do they Register?Americans Abroad can register via the embasy, or they can get help through the Federal Voting Assistance Program.But by far the easiest, quickest and most user-friendly way to register is through the Vote From Abroad Website.
Although this tool was created by Democrats Abroad (the officially recognised "state party" of the Democrats for Americans abroad) the tool is non-partisan and can be used by Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike. It does, however, ask users at the end of the registration process whether they would like to join Democrats Abroad - if so, then the party is able to provide them with ongoing voter information and advice.
After completing the online form, the tool creates a PDF with all your details completed, along with full instructions of where you need to send your form (by physical post - no e-mail or fax submissions accepted, sadly).
Where Do Americans Overseas Vote?
Americans abroad must send their absentee ballot to the last state where they lived in the US. If you are a US citizen who has never lived in the US - typically these are children of US citizens who have always lived abroad - you must vote in your parent's last state of residence.There are US expats from every state in the Union. The largest numbers probably come from big states such as New York and California, but there are also large numbers from states such as Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
How Many US Voters Live Overseas?
No one really knows. One estimate is that there may be as many as 6 million with nearly 250,00 in my home city of London alone - but no one tracks this information in any consistent way.
We do know, however, that there are more than enough to make a difference in this election. At Democrats Abroad meetings I frequently encounter people who have been living abroad for decades and who are voting this year for the first time. Go to the American Schools here and you find hundreds of young people who are about to turn 18 years old and preparing to vote for the first time. Go to the financial district here and you find thousands of wealthy executives who have never donated money to a politician before, or who have given to Republicans in the past, who this year are making major donations to Barack Obama and the Democratic party.
How do Americans Overseas Vote?
It used to be claimed that most American Expat voters were Republicans, but in the past two election cycles we have seen a significant change in this pattern what seems to be an overwhelming tilt towards the Democrats. Barack Obama in particular is wildly popular overseas, and this enthusiasm is reflected in the expat population, which voted for him overwhelmingly in our Democats Abroad Global Primary - giving him 65.8% of that vote.
Finding and registering overseas voters is hard work, but well worth the effort since these voters vote overwhelmingly Democratic, vote in a broad range of critical swing states, and are not included in US domestic polling. A huge upsurge in the overseas vote could be exactly the right thing to push our votes over the top in November. Please share the Vote from Abroad link widely and spread the word to every American you know who lives overseas. Thanks!
Friday, 13 June 2008
Barack Obama offered his condolences to Tim's family and gave the following statement:
We all I think have heard the news about Tim Russert. I’ve known Tim Russert since I first spoke at the convention in 2004. He’s somebody who over time I came to consider not only a journalist but a friend.
There wasn’t a better interviewer in TV, not a more thoughtful analyst of our politics and he was also one of the finest men I knew. Somebody who cared about America, cared about the issues, cared about family. I am grief-stricken with the loss and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family. And I hope that even though Tim is irreplaceable that the standard that he set in his professional life and his family life are standards that we all carry with us in our own lives.
So it's interesting to note that the McCain of today is directly contradicting the pro-privatisation rhetoric of McCain 2004.
It really ought to go without saying that all of these things are malicious and untrue (also, Barack is not friendly with aliens, does not hang out with Elvis and did not shoot JFK). Sadly, however, e-mail smears against Barack continue.
Fortunately we have a candidate and a campaign that is dedicated to truth and will work twice as hard as the smear artists do to get the truth out there. A new website, FighttheSmears.com has now been created by the Obama campaign to make sure those who are given false information about Obama have an easy source to find the truth.
Those of us who support Barack (or who just believe in truth) have a responsibility to direct anyone who spreads false information about Obama to this website. If you get a chain e-mail, write back to the person who sent it to you, set them straight, and insist that they correct the record with anyone else they may written to. If you have a blog of your own, please post this link.
Internet smears grow like weeds unless they are pulled out by the roots as soon as they start.
(By the way, here's Barack reciting the Pledge of Allegiance:)
People familiar with the plan said that state party staffers paid for under Howard Dean's 50 State Program would be shifted to working for the presidential campaign, at least in targeted battleground states.
The move reflects Obama's desire to maintain an unusually streamlined campaign, as well as his swift and complete takeover of a Democratic Party that isn't always known for its unity.
One party, one message, far from the Washington bubble. I like it.
Thursday, 12 June 2008
- Governor Howard Dean - DNC Chair and 50 state strategy genius - will be in London and speaking at Imperial College for Democrats Abroad on Sunday 22nd of June. Don't miss this rare opportunity to see the head of our party and find out first hand what's in across the land.
- July 4th Picnic - Democrats Abroad's annual picnic in Regents Park will be held (slightly inaccurately) on Saturday July 5th. Don't miss this wonderful opportunity to celebrate Independence with your fellow Democrats.
And by the way, if you haven't already joined Democrats Abroad, I highly recommend that you do so - not only is it a phenomenal organisation full of wonderful people, but it also does amazing voter registration work, hosts exciting events, and will keep you informed during this crucial election cycle.
And I'm not just saying that because I'm on the Executive Committee.
Want to know how to volunteer here in London?
Want to speak to a campaign staffer about how the campaign operates back home?
Want to find out how the campaign and the party will be working together to get out the vote in November?
Want to learn to register overseas voters to help Obama sweep to victory?
All your questions shall be answered. Join us:
From 7:00 PM
Duke of York Pub, New Cavendish Street
But please do RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you've been following Obama's selection process so far, you may have seen that his vetters have been meeting with leading Democrats to get their input. Apparently about 20 names have been mentioned in these meetings - names notable by including some surprises (James Jones, Retired General and former Supreme Allied Commender) and some perhaps surprisingly left off (where have you gone Bill Richardson?). Below is an updated list of names discussed. Comments, thoughts? Do let me know.
- Hillary Clinton
- James Jones
- John Kerry
- John Edwards
- Evan Bayh
- Kathleen Sebelius
- Ted Strickland
- Mark Warner
- Tim Kaine
- Jim Webb
- Bill Nelson
- Jack Reed
- Joe Biden
- Chris Dodd
- Tom Daschle
- Sam Nunn
McCain has a habit of saying this and related bits of "Iraq Forever" cheerleading and then claiming he was misinterpreted, so I'd like to address this point to him directly:
I understand that what you are REALLY saying is that you want our troops to stay in Iraq forever without dying but with magical flowers and happiness. When Democrats criticise you for saying this, they really are critisizing this position, not just misunderstanding it. The reason we criticise it is:
1) Saying that you want our troops to not die is not the same thing as having an actual plan to ensure that they do not die. My plan is to eat huge quantities of food, but to do it without getting fat. The fact that I have no actual mechanism to make this happen means it is a stupid thing to say in the first place.
2) Even if our troops were, in fact, not dying it would still be a bad idea to permanently occupy a Middle Eastern nation in which our presence is itself a source of instability - if for no other reason than that it lures to our enemies in the region into once again making our troops die (see point one).
I can explain it to you in simpler words if you like. Try this: What you are saying is BOTH a stupid thing to say AND a bad policy. That is why we mock you for it.
Wednesday, 11 June 2008
Obama leads McCain among registered voters, 47 to 41 percent, which is outside the poll’s margin of error. In the previous NBC/Journal survey, released in late April, Obama was ahead by three points, 46-43 percent.
“The poll clearly shows a post-primary bump for Barack Obama,” says Republican pollster Neil Newhouse, who conducted the survey with Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart.
Just for the sake of comparison, John Kerry was never ahead of George Bush outside of the margin of error in 2004. So we have to think of this as a very strong start! Still, lots of work between today and election day to make sure we cross that finish line ahead. If you haven't already done so, make sure you register to vote on www.votefromabroad.org.
Tuesday, 10 June 2008
Gallup shows an Obama lead of 6 points, with him scoring 48% of the vote and McCain 42%. That's a an increase of three points since the last poll (McCain is down 4).
Also Rasmussen is showing an increase of 4% in Obama's support and decrease of 2% for McCain - putting them at Obama 50, McCain 44.
A main reason for Obama's improved numbers is his improved performance amongst Democrats, as the party begins to recover from an historically long and closely contested primary. It will be interesting to see if this numbers continue to improve, as Democrats come together and pay more attention to John McCain's policies (anti-choice, Iraq forever, Bush economics).
In other news, it seems that George Bush's policies have had the completely logical and to be expected result of causing more Americans to identify as liberal:
Thirty-six percent (36%) say they are politically conservative, including 16% who say they are Very Conservative. Thirty-seven percent (37%) say they are politically moderate and 25% claim to be politically liberal. That last figure includes 8% who are Very Liberal.
Compared to four years ago, the number of conservatives is little changed but the number of liberal is up from 17%.
7% more liberals? I'll take that for a start!
It's not surprising that Americans would be moving to the left - after all, they want to get as far away from George W. Bush as possible.
Using all the exit poll data from every Democratic primary state where it was available, this tool allows you to see how every subgroup voted in all states. Ok, I'm a total geek, but I don't think I'm alone in finding this super cool. Right? Hello....? Ahem.
He also says of McCain:
"On the campaign trail he is a passionate critic of government spending. And yet, he has no problem spending hundreds of billions of dollars on tax breaks for big corporations and a permanent occupation of Iraq. George Bush's policies have taken us from a projected $5.6 trillion surplus at the end of the Clinton administration to massive deficits and nearly 4 trillion in new debt today. We were promised a fiscal conservative. Instead we got the most fiscally irresponsible administration in history. And now John McCain wants to give us another one."
This article, about an Obama Delegate from California who has never been active in politics before, is a nice reminder of the impact one person can make on this campaign - and the impact this campaign can make on a person.
To help fight the false online rumors that Obama is a Muslim, she signed up on FaithBase.com, a Facebook for Christians, and created a group called Mustard Seeds.
Even a mustard seed, the popular parable goes, can move mountains. The group has 97 members.
And months ago, when pundits declared Sen. Hillary Clinton the front-runner and she was dismayed that her black friends preferred Clinton to Obama because they believed she had a better chance of winning, she fired off an e-mail with this subject line: "If not now . . . when?"
"Maybe you think he can't win, or that the race is already decided," she wrote. "But the real question is -- does Barack Obama deserve our support?"
On June 25, around the time of the month when money is tight, she decided to give $10 to Obama online. Five months later, she gave $5.20; she made $520 that month and donated 1 percent of it. Then came another $10 donation. Ten, she says, is a reasonable figure -- not too little, not too much -- and all she could afford. In total, she's given $55.20.
"I'm not rich. I'm just a working mom. I knew from the beginning that my contribution wouldn't be financial."
We all have a contribution to make - the beauty of this campaign is that it takes all currencies. So whether you've got money, or time, or knowledge, or connections... whatever you've got, we can use.
Join us on the 19th to get involved.
Monday, 9 June 2008
Now that the primaries are over, it's time to start the general election with a bang! Join us Thursday June 19 for a General Election Kickoff and Organising event.
John McCain is going to be a tough competitor in the Fall and all Barack's supporters will need to bring every ounce of the discipline, energy and determination that we showed in the primary to make CERTAIN that we take back the White House this year. In fact, we are probably going to have to double down on our efforts - because it's all or nothing this year and losing is simply not an option.
Date: Thursday, June 19
Time: From 7:00-9:00PM
Location: The Duke of York Pub, New Cavendish Street
RSVP to: ObamaLondon@gmail.com
Join us at 7:00 for a campaign briefing from our own Bill Rubin, now an Obama for America staffer, who will give you his unique perspective on the primary, plus a hot off the presses update on Obama's plans for the general.
After that, Stephanie Stewart will do a "quick and dirty" voter registration training - because every single one of us needs to be prepared to pound the pavement to get US expats registered and help us get out the vote. Democrats Abroad Chair Bill Barnard will then give us a quick overview on the shape of the general election, the role of the Democratic party in getting out the vote, and his thoughts on the opportunity that this remarkable year, and this extrordinary election represents for our party.
And finally, I'll fill you in on my plans for the Obama London group and will want to hear the views, suggestions, comments and thoughts of you all about the many ways we can help the campaign and the party going forward. And perhaps most importantly, this is your opportunity to eat, drink and be merry! To celebrate how far we have come even as we realise how far we still have to go.
I would like to thank each of you for your extraordinary efforts this year. And I know that, no matter which candidate you supported in this primary we are all 100% committed to achieving the only thing that can start to solve America's problems - a Democratic President in 2009.
Sunday, 8 June 2008
Women for Obama has a good rundown of his many efforts on behalfo fo women's issues, and it is well worth reading their entire page. But let me flag up a few highlights in particular about the issue of violence against women - because this is an area that doesn't get nearly the amount of national attention it deserves.
Victims Economic Security and Safety Act: In Chicago, Obama served as the main sponsor of this bill, which was passed into law in 2002. The law ensures that anyone who is a victim of a domestic or sexual violence is given the right to take a leave from their employment to get necessary legal or medical assistance. Obama decided to introduce this legislation after meeting with advocacy groups for battered women. "They came to me and indicated how difficult it is for victims of physical and sexual abuse to deal with the repercussions of an assault and then try to balance it with work and everything else."
Obama Was a Co-Sponsor of the Violence Against Women Act of 2005, which would have authorised significant allocation of funds to combat violent crimes against women, prohibited law enforcement officers, prosecutors, or other government officials from requiring sex offense victims to submit to a polygraph examination as a condition for proceeding with an investigation or prosecution of a sex offense, established a sexual assault services program among other things.
On several occassions, Obama has voted for, co sponsored or introduced legislation in the Illinois Sentate to increase penalties for repeated perpetrators of domestic violence, provide women greater protection through strengthened court orders, and calling for higher standards in the medical treatment of domestic violence victims.
And what of the competition? Well, John McCain is more famed for his military advocacy than his support for victims of domestic violence. However, he did at least have the good grace to fire his New Hampshire Press Secretary after he allegedly punched his girlfriend so hard he broke her ribs. So that's something, I guess.
In honor of the Senator, I will be conducting a week long spotlight on women's issues here on the blog - do write in on the comments if there's a particular area you'd like me to write about.